The Counterfeit Crank
Set in rollicking Elizabethan London, The Counterfeit Crank gets its title from its most intriguing character, a Welsh beggar with a talent for feigning the falling sickness. Unfortunately, he all too soon becomes the dead body at the heart of this mystery, the fourteenth of the popular Nicholas Bracewell series featuring the merry band of players, Westfield’s Men and their stalwart book holder.
The twin mysteries of solving the murder and figuring out what’s ailing Edmund Hoode, the troop’s talented playwright, neatly converge in the exciting conclusion. The details of social mores, criminal and forensic proceedings, and attitude towards the destitute are marvelous as are the snarling villains, colorful actors and their cohorts. But our hero contains neither faults nor doubts enough to keep him as interesting as he might be in this segment. This also bled the suspense and sense of real danger from his derring-do.